Woodland Hills resident Colleen Bercsi passed away Tuesday at the age of 93.
She was born in Chicago to Michael Lynch, a cameraman for Lasky Studios, and Kathleen Lynch, a Chicago socialite and contributor to the Chicago Tribune. When they divorced she was raised by her beloved aunt, Catherine Riley.
Always a working artist, Colleen began her professional career at age six drawing surreptitiously on the walls underneath the paintings in her home. She later studied art with famed pop artist Corita Kent at Immaculate Heart College and subsequently earned her masters in art education. She worked with California artist Millard Sheets on the murals for Home Savings & Loan, which can still be seen today throughout Los Angeles on the old bank buildings.
However, she was best known for her beautiful oil paintings and her masters’ thesis on the motivation of Mexican art. She earned a second masters at Cal State L.A. at the age of 50 and exhibited to rave reviews a print series called “L.A. Woman” featuring stylized images of the homeless, elderly and working girls of downtown Los Angeles.
Colleen began teaching art at Arcadia High School, and then was a professor of art education at CSUN for over 20 years. Her students loved her, and to this day remember her fondly as both a teacher and a mentor. She wisely counseled her students on their academic lives, their home lives and their love lives – and got many a student through college to their graduation with her advice.
Colleen was happiest with a paintbrush in her hand, and surrounded by her family. She married Joseph Bercsi, an engineer at Hughes Aircraft, in 1958, and they had four children. Together they bought and sold real estate in the valley, and designed and built the family home in Woodland Hills. They were longtime, active parishioners and supporters of St. Mel Parish.
Colleen is survived by her children, Kathleen Sterling (Glen Kovacs), Stephen Bercsi (Jacqueline), Tricia Wilkin (Mark) and John Bercsi, her two grandchildren, Katie Sterling and Mikey Bercsi, and her cherished caregiver Sandra Trejo.
Services will be private. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Corita Art Center in Hollywood, whose mission is to spread Corita’s powerful message of love, hope, and justice.